How to choose an apartment

Omkar, a loyal MR reader, asks:

I’m looking for an
apartment (Fremont), and it’s my first one. Do you think that most
people over or underinvest in the quality of their accommodations? On
one hand, it’s where you spend the most time (especially if you’re like
me and have in-house hobbies). On the other, I think it’s probably easy
to overestimate the impact an additional unit of luxury housing will
have on everyday life.

The standard results from the happiness literature are that people grow accustomed to lots of living space but that we undervalue the hassle of a lengthy or stressful commute.  Kahneman’s work also suggests you should spend more time with your friends, so maybe that means living near them as well.  I don’t know if these results are true at all margins.  Moving from a mid-sized mansion to a large mansion probably doesn’t make you happier, but the switch from a one- to two-bedroom apartment might.

Personally, I’ll stress the benefits of rooming with someone who is both compatible and intelligent, but that isn’t exactly the question that was asked.  Your apartment should also be a gateway to new experiences, so perhaps you should live near the highway. or other effective modes of transport.

So, readers, when we are looking for an apartment, what is the bias we are most likely to have?


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